COVID-19 and providing care
Care for older people in the COVID-19 context will need to recognise that care may need to be provided for older people who are at end of life, those with specific palliative care needs, and those who may acquire COVID-19. Many aspects of activity in aged care and palliative care are affected by the COVID-19 environment. There is information on COVID-19 generally in the CareSearch COVID-19 Hub and specific information about aged care and COVID-19 in the palliAGED COVID-19 pages.
palliAGED resources for Standard 7
Standard 7 indicates that organisations need to have a skilled and qualified workforce which is able to deliver safe and quality care. Staff caring for older people coming to the end of their life may have learning, support and practice needs. There are a range of palliAGED resources that can provide information and support knowledge and training. Many of these resources include learning opportunities for careworkers and nursing staff and organisational suggestions.
A diverse workforce
People employed in the aged care setting provide care for many older Australians at the end-of-life. Care staff have a diverse range of skills that can meet the palliative care needs of residents and clients. Some staff have very specific responsibilities in the provision of care to the person and support for their families. The Practice Roles pages in palliAGED outline some of the roles and tasks different staff members carry out that are relevant to end of life.
Recognition of palliative care needs
Staff need to understand that an older person may now be in the last months of life and require additional care and supports. The palliAGED Practice Tips provide an overview of palliative care issues and information on symptom and specific needs. There are Practice Tips for Nurses and Practice Tips for Careworkers.
Communication and end of life
Good communication is important in all care processes. However, good communication with the older person, their family and carers, and within the care team is critical in a palliative care context. Staff can check out a range of practice options and managers can review evidence summaries and organisational supports. The following palliAGED webpages can assist staff and managers in supporting good communication:
Education and Training
A National Palliative Care Workforce Development Framework has been developed and an action plan is also underway through the Palliative Care Education and Training Collaborative, Queensland University of Technology. palliAGED has a database of education and training resources and a tool that can help staff select learning options. This can support individual CPD or in-house training activities. Aged care can also make use of the palliAGED Practice Tips.
Caring for people who are dying can cause stress and lead to burnout. Recognising that caring for older people generally includes caring for people who may die is an important first step in managing this stress.